|The Red Kite|
The scavenger of Medieval London – keeping the refuse strewn streets clear, before the gradual cleaning up of towns started a decline in carrion, rats and mice, which led to a decline in the kite population.
Early gamekeepers and farmers also persecuted the kite in the pursuit of protecting their free roaming chickens ... before the realisation in the 20th century that another species needed protection itself.
Most of our kite populations were confined to mid-Wales in the hanging oak woods on the sides of river valleys in hilly country. Wandering kites were also found before protection measures were introduced.
Kites like buzzards, soar, glide and occasionally hover – hence the name given to one of our favourite childhood pastimes, flying a kite.
They are very adept at hopping along the ground, from where they catch most of their prey – a quick pounce and the young bird, frog, small mammals, insects, and earthworms have their demise – the kite taking off into a tree to enjoy its meal.
Squalor as portrayed in
Hogarth’s Gin Lane
Our Red Kite is a hawk-like bird with long, angled wings and a long tail, usually, prominently forked and translucent when seen against the sun.
William Shakespeare described London as “a city of Red Kites and Crows” ... as ubiquitous scavengers they lived on the carrion and garbage ridden streets, giving rise to their common name in Elizabethan England “Shitehawk”.
Fortunately now The British Trust for Ornithology is fully engaged in preserving and reintroducing this magnificent bird into the British countryside – so much so ... that the Red Kite was named ‘Bird of the Century’ by the Trust.
That is Kite - that is what K is for ..
Part of the ABC - April 2011 - A - Z Challenge - Aspects of the British Countryside
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories